Robert L. Daniels is founder and president of Project Software & Development, Inc. (PSDI), the U.S.'s largest independent project management software company. He holds a B.S. in civil engineering from Tufts University, and an M.S. in civil engineering from the Massachusetts institute of Technology (which was supported by a National Science Foundation Fellowship that he received).
Daniels’ goal has been to develop products that enable a wide diversity of project management solutions to today's real-world problems. He comments, “We're specialists. We are sharply focused on what we're good at—project management and tools for project management.”
Bob is also an active participant in project management and software symposia and seminars worldwide. Daniels introduced the concept of Industry User Conferences, bringing together users of PSDI products from the same industries. Today, attendance is nearly a thousand people per year.
Even with the demands of growing a company, Bob enjoys taking a break now and then to play polo.
There is something very democratic about the movement toward enterprise-wide computing—a trend analogous to the explosion of literacy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Whereas written language had belonged to a small group of users (clerics, nobility, some professionals), the invention and evolution of moveable type brought written language to an ever-growing body of users. Just as PC users are empowered now, readers—users of written language—were empowered then. Readers became writers. What had been centralized became diversified. But what does this have to do with enterprise-wide project management?
Every once in a while an idea takes fire because it embodies both the needs and the possibilities of the moment. Enterprise-wide project management is just such an idea.
Our increasingly competitive business environment demands that waste be reduced to a minimum, that schedules be aggressive and rigorously maintained, that resources be fully utilized. Costs must be pared and the goods must be delivered.
These needs have their own implications: The only way all this can happen is if the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. And that's where enterprise-wide project management comes in. Just as changes in print technology led to an enormous growth in literacy and to the general empowerment that literacy confers, so changes in computer technology are now empowering managers to take charge of their own projects in ways they never could have before. Managers, who now have access to project and other relevant information, and the tools to use this information for their own work, have become planners.
This transition has come about because computers are everywhere. They are used to run machines on the shop floor and in the laboratory; to power the security system and the accounting system; to develop software and build publications; to forecast trends and manage correspondence.
The problem has been that separate computers, using different operating systems, data structures, and languages, ran the shop, the lab, the MIS department, and so forth. These functions affect one another, although not perhaps in any immediately visible way. Paper was once the medium of exchange for people and departments working together. Now that role is filled by electronic files. But these files can only serve as currency if they are recognized throughout the organization.
It just is not efficient if a file or document or other information created in one department can not be “read” or used in another. It never was efficient. But now, as organizations increasingly require staff and tools to be multifunctional, the waste is obvious and unacceptable.
Enter the possibilities-new tools making it possible to accommodate these requirements at the same time as they inspire and bring about even more changes in the way we generate and share information. Ever more powerful PCs and workstations, relational databases and tools for querying and updating them, file servers and network facilities all create the enterprise-wide project management environment.
The growth in power and prevalence of personal computers has made it necessary for hardware and software vendors to provide bridges among computing environments. In some cases, the passage is hardly visible at all—more or less like what one would expect if one were to be “beamed up.” Networks and the fileservers that power them enable a user on a PC, for example, to work from a file that resides on a VAX—and not even notice.
Enterprise computing and enterprise project management are the inevitable outgrowth of the technological decentralization brought about by the increasing power of desktop computers. But there are other factors, some of them driven by the same trends in technology, that have created a favorable climate for enterprise-wide project management. Among the most important of these is the change in the way organizations manage resources to do projects.
Increasingly, organizations are moving toward a matrix or teamed structure for projects. Projects lend themselves to these structures, because projects require variable effort from a variable and often cross-departmental resource pool. Project information has different meanings for the various managers involved since each department has its own focus and its own set of priorities.
Manufacturing, for example, is most interested in making sure that the goods are produced well and on schedule. Marketing is most interested in ensuring that the goods produced are goods the target customers will want to buy, and that the product delivery date coincides with PR and marketing schedules. Shipping/receiving is most interested in making sure that they have the product to be shipped, and the materials for packing it, in time to ship for on-schedule delivery. Sales is most interested in ensuring that the product is available to customers, in sufficient quantity, when and as promised. On a day-to-day level, enterprise-wide project management software can track and modify schedules and resource allocations across departmental and individual projects, enabling managers of these very different functions to coordinate their efforts.
In more global terms, enterprise-wide project management makes possible the organizational flexibility required by a changing economy and technological environment. Most of all, it provides managers with the information and tools they need to take control of their own work.
PSDI, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, provides high-functionality, large-scale project management software, and plant and facilities maintenance management software. Starting with no capital just 25 years ago, today PSDI is a business with 300 employees, annual revenues of $25 million and offices across the U.S. and worldwide, including international subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia and Canada.
PSDI'S comprehensive line of project management software allows users to manage and control important projects from initial planning to completion to achieve greater productivity, shortened project schedules and more effective resource utilization. The most recent product is PROJECT 2/Series X.
PSDI'S maintenance management software, MAXIMO Series 3, allows users to automate plant maintenance operations, including work order tracking, equipment history and inventory control.
PSDI serves the world's largest organizations, where project management and maintenance issues are the most complex and costly. Its customers include major aerospace/defense firms, electric utility companies, pharmaceutical companies, manufacturing industries, and other organizations with major organizational needs.
PSDI also maintains strategic partnerships with Digital Equipment Corp., Oracle Corp., Novell, Inc., Microsoft Corp., Easel Corp., Netronix and Gupta Technologies, Inc., IBM, Amoco Production Co., Ocean Spray Cranberry, Inc., and the Genetics Institute.